SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. — The students at Thornwood High School in South Holland said she’s like a second mother to them — that’s because February's Teacher of the Month is always willing to listen and offer support.
For Stephanie Wayne, it all comes naturally — building strong relationships with kids has been her life’s work.
“Ms. Wayne, she’s really one of us,” Jaylan Charleston, a student, said. “If I know I’m getting in a situation I know I can’t handle, or it’s going to overwhelm me, knowing I can go find Ms. Wayne and talk to her at any point in the day … to know that I have at least one person in this building that I can go and talk to, that means a lot to me.”
“I never turn them down regardless how deep it is or how easy it is to handle,” Wayne said. “I just love working with them and being able to help out.”
When Wayne isn’t teaching, she serves as an administrator for students with special education plans and coaches Special Olympics cheerleading and track and field.
“Knowing that all kids can learn regardless of their disability or ability and once people know that, they’ll be great,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Oh they can’t do this.’ Well what can they do?”
It’s a lesson learned through personal experience after she was injured in a car accident at age 17.
“They’re seniors and I was a senior when I got hurt, so they reflect and say, ‘Man, I don’t know if I would keep pushing if I were you if this happened to me right now.’ So it gets real for them,” she said.
To honor Ms Wayne and her devotion to her students, award sponsor and attorney Ken Allen presented her with $1000 check.